Are you tired of searching and comparing Kodi TV Boxes at no end? Reading all the specs and features without being really sure what’s what? Let’s take a look and answer a few questions first.
Table of Contents - Article Hierarchy
- So What is Android TV Kodi Box?
- Editor’s Choice – Amazon Fire
- 2020 Nvidia Shield TV 4K
- What Is Kodi And What Does It Do?
- Runner Up – Beelink GT1
- How Hard Is It To Install Kodi?
- Is Kodi legal?
- So What Are The Best Android TV Streaming Boxes for KODI?
So What is Android TV Kodi Box?
An Kodi TV box is a smart device running Android as operating system. Yes, just like a phone, but it is not mobile and it connects to your TV, usually via the HDMI port. These “Kodi boxes” come with tons of software for streaming, movie watching and more. The fact that they run Android makes them compatible with most apps from the Google Play store, including your favourite games. Most of them have 1 or more USB ports where you can connect an external hard drive, USB flash drives, gaming controllers and more.
What Is Kodi And What Does It Do?
In a few words, Kodi is a movie and videos streaming app. If you are an entertainment enthusiast and like to watch lots of movies, TV shows, and sports in your free time, then Kodi is an excellent choice. Kodi was originally developed for Microsoft Xbox consoles but then it was ported for most popular operating systems. It is a free, open-source platform that allows you to stream locally stored movies, music, and other media. It is designed with a central entertaining console in mind – it wants to be the center of attention and cover most, if not all, living room entertainment needs. You can stream movies and shows from your laptop or desktop computer, over a wireless or wired network, from your tablet or phone, and, last, but not least, from the Internet.
Here are the most important specs an Android TV box should have:
- Fast Processor – At least a quad-core with sufficient processing power.
- Enough RAM. Plenty of memory is crucial for good Android performance. 1 Gb RAM is the bare minimum today with 2Gb or more recommended.
- Storage. 16Gb or more are a must
- SD or TF card slot. Just in case you want to extend the app storage capabilities.
- USB ports – you will need at least one USB port in order to connect external hard drives, gaming controllers and more.
- Fast WiFi. Dual Band WiFi is important, AC speeds preferable
- HDMI 2.0 if you want 4K content. Older HDMI ports can not support 4K at 60Hz.
How Hard Is It To Install Kodi?
Overall, it is not hard to install at all!
Reading some of the “loaded” Kodi box sellers you might be left with the impression that Kodi is really hard to install software that needs a “specialist” in order to be done correctly. This couldn’t be further away from the truth as Kodi can be legally installed and downloaded from Google Play. Once you install it and configure it properly you are good to go. Just connect the box to your TV and enjoy the show. Streams and add-ons can be found on the Kodi website along with all kinds of goodies – remote control for your phone, audio streaming services and much more.
Is Kodi legal?
That depends on where you live and your local laws. I’m not going to talk much about the legality of Kodi but I’ll say this:
Kodi, as an app, is perfectly legal to use.
It is a free app that can be used as an entertainment enhancement of non-smart and smart TVs alike. What makes it illegal in some people’s eyes are some of the stream available exclusively for Kodi. These streams are what makes people think that Kodi is illegal. I’m not going to discuss whether you should use or install these streams and add-ons to your Kodi device – that’s completely up to you.
Fortunately, Kodi is compatible with almost every kind of device that you can think of. Regardless of the operating system, the Kodi software can be easily installed on a variety of platforms like Linux, Android, Windows, Raspberry Pi and more. Once you have installed Kodi on your device, it will soon turn into a video and online video streaming hub. However, if you are an iOS (iPhone/iPad) user, you may face some difficulties in installing the software on your iOS-based device. iOS devices need to be jailbroken for installation of Kodi.
The user interface of Kodi is simply stunning. This has been made possible due to the of the efforts of more than a hundred software developers and translators who have shaped the Kodi software for the past decade. Since Kodi is a free and open source platform, unlike some of the most popular platforms, users are free to load it with all the add-ons that can find. You don’t need to buy any licenses for those add-ons and some of them are very useful. Some of them are forbidden in certain countries and ISPs try to proactively block them around the world.
Why is that?
Most because Kodi allows you to stream paid content like sports, newly released movies, DVD sets and popular television shows. These streams are illegal in countries like USA, UK, Germany and more. In most cases, you can get away with it but there are reports of people prosecuted and what not. It is mostly true for people selling “loaded” Kodi boxes but you have to keep that in mind when making a choice.
With the growing popularity of Android as an operating system, it is no wonder the popularity of TV boxes running the open source OS. As I mentioned above, Android lets you access the Google Play app market and download a plethora of free and paid apps to satisfy
So What Are The Best Android TV Streaming Boxes for KODI?
These devices are the most affordable, reliable and proven Android boxes that can run Kodi flawlessly. Proven performers and they are all sold on Amazon, so there are no dodgy Chinese sites to order from and wonder whether you’ll get hit by import taxes, duty and even VAT in some countries. Yes, some of them are by Chinese manufacturers but they offer great value for money, reliable hardware and well-written software. All of them have enough RAM, storage and wireless connection in order to run Kodi without any hiccups
Let’s take a look at our recommended Android TV Kodi boxes list:
1. Nvidia Shield TV 4K – The Best Streaming TV Box For Kodi
I don’t really think that the NVidia Shield TV needs any serious introduction. It has been on the market for quite a while now and despite the dropping sales, it has been updated again in 2017.
The new version is not that different from the old on – it still features the same hardware configuration and capabilities as the old one with a few twists. It still the same old Tegra X1 all-in-one chip which despite its respectable age still performs admirably.
The new version has been updated to feature proper 4K support at 60 Hertz refresh rate, high definition audio over HDMI, new controller and more.
Is it worth upgrading if you have the old one?
Not by a long shot. Still the same hardware with just a different configuration and software. If you’re savvy enough you can update the first generation to Android Nougat with a custom ROM and have a free upgrade. Buying today, though, is a different matter – I would much prefer the new version over the old one. It just has a bit more goodies compared to the old one. But enough of that, let’s take a look at the specs:
- Tegra X1 Processor (256 Cores CPU+GPU Unit)
- 3GB RAM
- 16GB Storage
- Dual-Band Wireless AC
- Gigabit LAN Port
- USB 3.0 Ports
The Shield TV is a device of great build and quality. It has a few very interesting features that might turn the scale to its favor after all, especially when compared to all the Chinese devices above.
First of all, it features native Android TV support as Google intended it to. You can find more information here.
Second – it hast native Google Cast support so there is no need to buy a separate Google Chromecast if you need one. you can stream straight from your Android phone or tablet and use it like a proper Chromecast. It is a very useful feature if you are used to the Google Cast ecosystem.
Third – it is available with Google assistant and voice control. You can connect your Shield to other smart devices such as smart thermostats, LED light bulbs, smart appliances and more. It is a very useful feature if you have or planning to have a smart home. Google voice search works beautifully and here is a video to illustrate it:
Fourth – it offers Geforce Now support. It is tricky as it isn’t the same as the GeForce Now service for Mac and PC. With the Mac and PC version, you are basically renting a cloud PC that you can stream games from on your home PC, one that can not natively run those games as it is not fast enough. You can choose any games that are available on Steam, Origin and more. The GeForce Now for Shield is a different story – you have a set choice of games for a monthly subscription. It cost $7.99 and around the same number in GBP and EUR. You have a tad over 100 games to choose from and you can enjoy them unlimited for a month with the subscription.
You have to have very fast broadband to take full advantage of that though. You need at least 100 Mbps for proper 4K playtime and at least 25-30 Mbps for 1080p streaming. It works mostly OK but it is not really flawless. When the connection is good the experience is good but if there are some interruptions or your router can’t keep up with the demands your gaming experience will suffer lag and stuttering. I think the service needs some polishing before offering adequate performance. It is OK for the price at best.
Kodi, on the other side, works flawlessly and without any issues.
It doesn’t come pre-installed as you can expect from any reputable maker. You’ll have to sideload Kodi yourself but ti shouldn’t be too hard to do. Streaming is good and the AC wireless is no slouch either. With our Asus RT-AC3200 router, we managed to get a tad over 210 Mbps downloads speed from our local NAS device. Not bad at all and it is one of the fastest AC adapters we tested for this review.
The Nvidia Shield is not cheap by any means. While it is a great streaming box, it handles native Android games beautifully and the overall performance is superb for such old hardware, the price is just a bit too high. It has only 16GB storage with no expansion options either.
2. Amazon Fire TV Stick – The Best Smart TV Stick
Here is another offering from Amazon – the company that revolutionized the way people shop online. You are used to expecting superb support, lighting-fast shipping times and even 2-hour delivery slots in certain regions. The Amazon version of an Android TV box – the Fire TV stick with Alexa is no different – is an excellent product now offering Alexa at no additional cost. With Alexa, you can check the weather today, tell “her” to play the next episode of your favorite show or control your smart devices at home. All you have to do is touch the Alexa button on the TV Stick remote control and you are good yo good. Amazing!
These are the most notable specs but as we compare it with the Fire TV box we can see that the Stick is lacking certain features. The most notable ones are the absence of LAN port, no storage extension via an SD or TF card and certainly no 4K.
- Quick Quad-Core processor for lag-free experience
- 1 GB of memory – enough for most applications and Kodi
- 1080p support – not the best choice for 4K TVs
- AC Wireless – for effortless streaming
- Bluetooth 4.1
Amazon Fire TV Versus Fire TV Stick?
Yes, the Fire TV Stick is lacking some features but you have to ask yourself do you need those and do you really want to shell out more money for the Fire TV box. While the LAN and the SD card slots are nice, they are not essential if you are running a wireless-only household and have no plans to load the stick with bloated apps. However, if you need to connect the Amazon Fire TV to a cabled NAS device or your wireless signal is weak and not enough for stutter-free streaming then the Fire TV might be the better device for you.
If you are not satisfied with the pre-installed apps on the Fire Stick you can always download more from the Amazon app store. As we mentioned with the Fire TV, the Amazon app store is proprietary and not everything is available from the Google Play store, but there are always some offers or promotions available for free and paid apps.
Although it might not be as powerful as the box, the Amazon TV Stick does not disappoint considering the price difference and the size gap. While the box has to be on a stand or a table next to your TV, the stick just plugs into an HDMI port and it is ready to use. If you have an available USB port on your TV you can use it to power the stick and avoid another cable running down the wall if your TV is mounted. That’s probably the main advantage of the stick – no visible cables around and under the TV. Everything is neatly tucked and hidden away.
The interface is the same as the box and very similar to basic Android, although a bit optimized and better looking. It comes with all the Amazon apps to enjoy Prime Video, Prime music and more. It doesn’t properly work yet with Amazon Echo and you can’t still use Echo to control the TV Stick but I expect it to happen sooner rather than later. It would be awesome to call Alexa from your couch to change the channel on the TV stick or switch to Netflix for the next episode of House of Cards.
Kodi installation is a breeze. It can be easily sideloaded and add-ons installed.
Yes, the updated version of the Amazon Fire Stick works with Kodi!
KODI playback is effortless thanks to the fast dual-band AC wireless connection and given you have a good router streaming should be a breeze.
Gaming is supported as well as the charging USB of the Firestick can be extended and connected to a USB hub with the help of a simple OTG extension cable. No modifications required and it works great out of the box. It is compatible with Amazon’s gaming controller so you can enjoy your favorite games with the stick. Don’t expect amazing performance but most popular titles should be playable out of the box.
Overall – an excellent choice for Kodi – great Amazon support, fast hardware, and cable-free TV stand. Recommended!
3. Xiaomi Mi Box 3 – The Best Chinese Solution
If you haven’t heard the brand “Xiaomi” you are missing out on a great range of very high-quality devices made by the Chinese company. They make very good, but affordable Android phones, smart watches, fitness trackers, Bluetooth speakers, earphones and much more at a very decent price. I personally like to call them the Apple of China. The Android TV box runs a custom version of Android 6.0 and unlike the Amazon devices, it has full access to the Google Play store. You can download games, shows, play Netflix and much more. If you have a Xiaomi phone you can control the box from your phone with full options available – sound, music and more. You can even take advantage of Android TV OS experience as the Mi Box is on the list of approved devices. You can experience TV just as Google designed it.
The wireless is top notch and if you have a fast AC router you will not miss the LAN port one bit. If you can’t get a signal to the TV box or if you insist having a cable connection that maybe the Xiaomi Mi Box is not the right device for you. 2.4 GHz band routers might not be fast enough for 4K streaming but if you have a decent 5GHz AC router you can take advantage of streaming speed of more than 200 Mbit per second – plenty of bandwidth for even the most demanding streams.
So let’s take a look at the Xiaomi’s Android box offering. It runs a proper MIUI version of Android that offers OTA updates, stable android builds and lots of proprietary features that are not available on other Android instalments. The hardware is capable as well and here are the most notable specifications:
- Fast Quad Core Processor
- 2Gb RAM
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dual Band AC Wireless
- 8Gb Storage
- 4K video at 60 Hz
- SPDIF output
It runs Kodi beautifully and it is a fully compatible Android TV Box.
You can sideload Kodi TV with easy and take advantage of all the programming and free entertainment. It may struggle with full resolution 4K content due to the absence of a LAN port. Although 200 Mbps is enough for most streams, 4K with high definition audio might fill up the bandwidth and leave no room for error. Any variations of the wireless signal will cause interruptions and buffering – not a nice experience.
Another disadvantage is the absence of an SD card slot. If you are planning to do lots of gaming on the device, download any media or software, the 8Gb storage are simply not enough. Even 16Gb are pushing it nowadays with the size of games like Need For Speed, Mortal Combat and more. Yes, these games are available on Android and t